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Mexico Travel News

Pueblos Mancomunados of the Sierra Juárez

Take to the pine-clad highlands of Oaxaca with a visit to the indigenous villages of the Sierra Juárez. For decades, logging was the only real moneymaker in the mountains just east of the city of Oaxaca. But a loose alliance of remote Zapotec communities known as the pueblos mancomunados (united villages) is working hard to recast itself as an eco-tourism hotspot.

The pueblos have created a network of hiking and mountain-biking trails and zip-lines. Local guides can take you from village to village, where pleasant if rustic cabañas—many of which have fireplaces—are available for rent.

Mountain bikes and horses are also available for hire. Devotees rave about biking through pine forests past giant agave plants, the spiky wonders from which tequila and mezcal are made. The area is known for its much-coveted harvests of wild mushrooms which, if you’re lucky, will show up in your meals.

The entire alliance can be charmingly scruffy and is refreshingly Internet-shy, so you may want to wait to make reservations until you arrive in the city of Oaxaca, where each participating village runs its own office for walk-in bookings.

International News

Lodge at Sea Island Named Best US Hotel

Georgia’s Lodge at Sea Island took the top spot among US hotels in U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 rankings, with The Jefferson in Washington, D.C., taking No. 2. Ritz-Carlton Montreal was No. 1 in Canada, and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, was named best hotel in the Caribbean.

Gourmet Treasures of Northern Italy

The famous biennial Salone Del Gusto (Festival of Taste) will celebrate its twentieth anniversary September 22 through 26 in the beautiful historic center of Turin. A must for serious foodies, it brings together thousands of farmers and artisan food producers from across the globe to celebrate the slow food philosophy of good, clean, and fair food.

The international event takes place every two years. Gourmet food and wine tours of this rich gastronomic region can include truffle auctions, cooking demos and classes market tours, wine tastings, chocolate sampling, and participation in a truffle hunt.

Cruise News

Take Advantage of Cruise Line Bundling

Bundling is one of the top trends in cruise sales. For 2016, these “value added” programs continue to evolve. Here’s a sampling of programs.

OLife Choice: Oceania Cruises is adjusting its popular OLife promotion by providing guests with the flexibility to choose from complimentary amenities when booking a cruise that departs on or after April 25. Valid through June 30, 2016, the new OLife Choice promotion is available to all guests, regardless of stateroom or suite booked.

Guests can choose complimentary features such as unlimited Internet access, plus a choice of a beverage package, shore excursions, or a shipboard credit. The number of complimentary shore excursions offered and the amount of the credit are dependent on the cruise length. They range from three shore excursions or a US$300 credit for voyages up to nine days to five shore excursions and US$500 credit for sailings 14 days or longer.

Go Big, Go Better, Go Best: Introduced in mid-2015, Celebrity Cruises’ all-inclusive “Go Big, Go Better, Go Best” fare program is designed to allow the guest to choose a fare level based on inclusive perks. Options include classic beverage packages, unlimited Internet, prepaid tips, or US$150 in onboard credit per person. Guests decide what type of fare they wish, dependent on the number of perks they wish included.

With “Go Big,” one perk is included. “Go Better” has two benefits, and “Go Best” offers all of them. The program applies to guests booking an ocean-view stateroom category and higher, now through April 2017.

Twice as Nice: For guests booking by February 29, Princess Cruises’ “Twice as Nice Sale” is a value-added offering with double onboard spending money and savings up to US$1,000 per stateroom on hundreds of voyages of six days or longer, departing this spring through spring 2017. Guests booking an interior- or ocean-view stateroom receive up to US$300 onboard spending money per stateroom, and those booking a balcony, mini-suite, or suite receive up to US$600 onboard spending money per stateroom.

Words of the Wise and Well-Traveled

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” Gustave Flaubert

Deal of the Week

Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route

Game of Thrones Country

Nine-day itinerary starting at US$2,495 per person

Small group tour (maximum 18 passengers) that starts and ends in Belfast.

Discover the beauty of Ulster, an unspoiled region that remains relatively undiscovered by tourists. Explore the Ards Peninsula and learn about its fishing tradition. Enjoy exclusive access to a privately owned estate. Taste local produce and fine whiskey. Now top it off with a visit to the new Titanic Museum, and you’ve just experienced the best of Northern Ireland.

Package Pricing Includes:

Eight nights’ accommodation, driver/tour leader, mini-coach transportation, full Irish breakfast daily, three evening meals, ferry to Strangford, famous “Black Cab” tour, and whiskey tasting.

Included entrances: Portaferry Aquarium, Ballyscullion Park, Bushmills Distillery, Giant’s Causeway, Glenveagh Castle, Glebe House & Gallery, Enniskillen Castle museums, Castle Coole & Lisburn Irish Linen Centre and Museum, Titanic Museum.

Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in personalized cruises and tours. She designs trips that are tailored to suit a client’s interests, abilities, and budgets. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any of the Travel News topics; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email judynewell@perfectjourneys.net. View the latest travel specials on www.perfectjourneys.net, where you can book your hotels, tours, and cruises online.

Sources: Smarter Travel, The Washington Post, Slow Food, Travel Agent Central, Eurobound

 

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